Colorlines

NOW IN RACIAL JUSTICE

A Teenage Girl Created a Beat for Jay-Z’s New Album

Canadian teen Ebony Oshunrinde, aka Wondagirl, is dope. Jezebel explains why:

Her story is insanely inspiring and impressive: after watching a video of Jay-Z and Timbaland working in the studio together at age 9, she began to download music software and teach herself how to use it by watching YouTube tutorials. “I wanted to do the exact same thing that [Jay-Z] did,” she recently told the Star. When she was 14, she made it to the quarter-finals of Toronto’s Battle of the Beatmakers. (FOURTEEN. I didn’t even know how to make a grilled cheese when I was 14.) She won the title the following year, because she is incredible, and went on to sign an exclusive management deal with Black Box.

The result? Wondagirl is credited as a producer on “Crown”, a track on Jay-Z’s new Magna Carta Holy Grail. Listen to the track after the jump.

Forget ‘The Lone Ranger,’ Here’s a Real Native Film

Forget 'The Lone Ranger,' Here's a Real Native Film

Did you watch “The Lone Ranger,” only to regret it? Do you already know you don’t wanna waste your money or your time on it? Then check out “Universal VIP.” It was written, produced, directed by Natives, and features a phenomenal all-Native cast (hello, Tatanka Means!)—all based on a short story by Gyasi Ross. 

TAGS: Films Native

Connecticut Bars Felony Arrests for School Zip Code Fraud

Connecticut Bars Felony Arrests for School Zip Code Fraud

Connecticut won’t be prosecuting parents for “stealing” their children’s public education anymore. Last week Gov. Daniel Malloy signed into law HB 6677, which prohibits felony arrests for parents who enroll their children in schools outside their zip code. 

The law addresses recent high-profile cases of counties arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating parents—most typically poor mothers of color—for falsifying information to enroll their children in better school districts. It is a common practice, not just in Connecticut, but arrests and criminal prosecutions for such maneuvers have typically fallen squarely on poor women of color. 

HB 6677 (PDF) explicitly says that falsifying information to obtain a “service” like public education for schoolchildren or those enrolled in public school districts will not count as larceny. Residency violations will now be dealt with by school districts themselves as a civil matter.

Before HB 6677 became law, Connecticut convicted Tanya McDowell, a black woman, of first-degree larceny for enrolling her son in the school district of Norwalk. She was eventually sentenced to twelve years in prison for, along with other charges, “stealing” an estimated $15,000 in public education, Connecticut’s WFSB reported. McDowell is not alone. Before her, Kelley Williams-Bolar was sent to jail for ten days for using her father’s address to enroll her daughters in a neighboring school district in Akron, Ohio.

But larger issues remain. Every child in the country may have access to public education, but a high quality public education is a privilege instead of a right. And it’s too often out of reach for the poor and families of color. A high quality education has become a private good, something a family must be in the correct tax bracket, or zip code, to deserve. 

An Obscenely Hilarious Take on Bay Area Gentrification

An Obscenely Hilarious Take on Bay Area Gentrification

Presenting Miss Persia and Daddie$ Pla$tik with “Google Google Apps Apps.”

(H/T Nia King)

Just In Case You Weren’t Already Waiting for Janelle Monáe’s New Album

Just In Case You Weren't Already Waiting for Janelle Monáe's New Album

Here’s the video for her latest single, “Dance Apocalyptic.” Notice that Monáe is going without her signature pompadour and bowtie. Still cute. The album hits stores on September 10, 2013.

Twitter Reacts to City College of San Francisco’s Accreditation Woes

Twitter Reacts to City College of San Francisco's Accreditation Woes

San Francisco was dealt a huge blow earlier this week when a private panel announced the stunning decision to revoke City College of San Francisco’s accreditation, citing, among other things, fiscal mismanagement. Since California law prohibits taxpayer money from going to unaccredited institutions, the decision may mean the college — a vital lifeline to 85,000 immigrant, working class, and elderly students — may be forced to close its doors. The decision could take effect on July 31, 2014 but will likely be appealed by the college.

“This announcement clearly shows that the (accrediting commission) is an out-of-control, rogue institution that must be stopped by the (U.S.) Department of Education,” Wendy Kaufman, an engineering instructor and leader of the Save City College Coalition, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

You can read the Accreditation for Community and Junior College’s (ACCJC) decision here.

Meanwhile, people reacted on Twitter with shock and outrage at the decision. Check out some of the chatter after the jump, and stay tuned to Colorlines for news and analysis.

Add Azealia Banks and Pharrell’s New ‘ATM Jam’ to Your Summer Playlist

This new Azealia Banks track with Pharrell is hot. Banks performed “ATM Jam” live at Glastonbury last week and then New York radio station Hot 97 debuted it to their listeners on July 2. Here’s the radio edit, which is still a banger. Enjoy.

(H/T Billboard)

TAGS: Femi Kuti

Femi Kuti: ‘I knew I never wanted to be just like my father.’

Femi Kuti caught up with Wax Poetics recently to promote his new album No Place for My Dream. The son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti told the magazine’s blog, “I was being groomed to be like my father, even in the way I dressed. That wasn’t what I wanted. I needed something more challenging. I wanted to break away.”

Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t. But this new track, “Nothing to Show For It”, shows that the apple clearly doesn’t fall very far from the tree. And in this case, that’s a good thing.

Sabrina Fulton on the Stand: ‘My son is Trayvon Martin. He’s in heaven.’

Sabrina Fulton on the Stand: 'My son is Trayvon Martin. He's in heaven.'

Trayvon Martin’s family is on the stand this morning in a Florida courtroom, where George Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder. The prosecution’s first witness today was Sabrina Fulton, who testified early on, “My youngest son is Trayvon Benjamin Martin. He’s in heaven.”

Fulton went on to state that the screams heard on the 911 call are most certainly Trayvon Martin’s. Her son, Jahvaris Fulton, is also on the stand this morning. The prosecution will likely rest its case later today.

You can read details about what happened this morning at the Orlando Sentinal.

Jay-Z’s New Album Pretty Much Knows Everything About You

Jay-Z's New Album Pretty Much Knows Everything About You

After a few initial hiccups, Jay-Z’s new album Magna Carta Holy Grail was released this week by way of an exclusive app for Samsung customers. But Adrian Chen over at Gawker points out that the app itself is a massive data mining opportunity:

Occupy-supporting Atlanta rapper Killer Mike noted on Twitter yesterday that when he tried to download the Magna Carta app—which has racked up more than a half million downloads, according to Billboard—it requested some oddly intrusive permissions from your Android phone. Why does Jay-Z need your GPS location? Is he going to cruise by on a platinum-coated jet ski, personally chucking out copies of the album to people who downloaded the app?

During his big media splash before the album’s released, the business savvy rapper said that his unconventional deal with Samsung was motivated in part by his belief that the Internet is the “wild, wild West” and that we — users — have a chance to rewrite the rules. I guess all of that is true except when it comes to your privacy.

Native Appropriations Sees “The Lone Ranger” (Now, You Don’t Have To)

Native Appropriations Sees

SPOILER ALERT: Adrienne Keene, over at Native Appropriations, doesn’t like it. But don’t take our word for it, here’s part of her review, which draws attention to the many, many problematic stereotypes featured in the film:

The Lone Ranger fails the Bechdel test. There are not two (named) women, who speak to each other, about something other than a man. The portrayals of the Chinese laborers who built the railroad are super problematic too, they have them in rice paddy hats, and the only time they speak is to tell the bad guys they won’t go in the tunnel because there are “Indian spirits” in there. Then that guy gets shot. The only Black characters are one of Rebecca’s employees (who gets shot defending the house), and the driver/bouncer of the “House of Sin” where Helena Bonham-Carter works. This is also supposed to be Texas, but I can’t actually think of any Latino characters, besides a “Spaniard” (bad guy), and another of Rebecca’s employees.

And that’s just a tiny bit. You can read the review in its entirety here.

Still feel like you want to see the flick? Make sure you take Keene’s Lone Ranger bingo card with you. She was kind enough to create it for “all your cliched stereotype needs.”

TAGS: Lone Ra

Federal Judge Needs Evidence Louisiana Prison Gets Extra Hot in July

Federal Judge Needs Evidence Louisiana Prison Gets Extra Hot in July

A federal judge denied a preliminary injunction filed by attorneys for death row inmates in Louisiana’s notorious Angola state penitentiary who are suing the prison for subjecting the prisoners to cruel and unusual punishment due to extreme heat conditions there. The Promise of Justice Initiative attorneys were simply asking for Angola prison officials to control temperatures to more tolerable levels. In 2011, the heat index rose as high as 195 degrees.

The judge’s denial of having the prison turn up the fans is temporary, and contingent upon the attorney’s bringing him evidence that the prison will, in fact, get unbearably hot this month. Judge Brian Jackson asked the inmates’ lawyers and prison officials to record temperature data from inside the facilities over the next three weeks.  

Lawyers for the prison said heat complaints were “not scientifically valid,” according to a Nola.com report, and based on “generally incompetent evidence.” 

On death row, the inmates, who all have hypertension, remain in cells for 23 hours a day experiencing dangerous and potentially life threatening heat conditions in the summer — this according to two experts on thermoregulation and environmental safety provided by the inmates’ attorneys. 

Federal courts have already ruled that extreme heat conditions count as cruel and unusual punishment, as seen recently in lawsuits successfully filed against Texas prisons. It’s also a matter of fact that American cities that currently suffer heat waves are expected to suffer even more of them, and at higher intensities, throughout the century according to the best available climate change information. 

Queering Immigration: ‘Citizenship Is Not the Answer to Everything’

Queering Immigration: 'Citizenship Is Not the Answer to Everything'

Check out this thought-provoking video by Sowjanya Kudva in which LGBT folks talk about their definitions of immigration, borders, and citizenship.

‘The Lone Ranger’ Inspires Fashion Trend

'The Lone Ranger' Inspires Fashion Trend

Anchor Vincent Schilling of the Vincent Schilling YouTube News Channel talks to Vincent Schilling about the new Johnny Depp fashion craze, based on Tonto from the “The Longer Ranger”. It’s as brilliant as it is hilarious. 

Watch the Ghost of Frederick Douglass Star in This 1970’s Afro Sheen Commercial

Watch the Ghost of Frederick Douglass Star in This 1970's Afro Sheen Commercial

Too much. But still a little something for your afternoon lunch break.

The KKK’s TV Show for Kids Is As Awful As You Can Imagine

The KKK's TV Show for Kids Is As Awful As You Can Imagine

Startin’ ‘em young on white supremacy. From the Huffington Post:

Andrew Pendergraft is the grandson of Thomas Robb, the modern-day Ku Klux Klan’s national director. As a young boy with floppy blond hair and a slight speech impediment, Pendergraft hosted a number of short episodes of his very own amateur talk show, “The Andrew Show,” which presents the Klan’s ideology in a format aimed at kids — more specifically, white kids.

The episode above appears to have been shot around 2009.

TAGS: KKK

Zanele Muholi’s Absolutely Stunning Portraits of Queer Africa

Zanele Muholi's Absolutely Stunning Portraits of Queer Africa

It’s often a dangerous act of rebellion to be openly queer in many African countries. Back in 2011, Frankie Edozien reported for Colorlines on the sometimes deadly concurrent rise of U.S.-backed evangelical Christianity and a growing sense of pride among many in Ghana’s LGBT community. A 2011 report Human Rights Watch Report documented the rise of “curative rape” in South Africa and criticized that country’s government for “desperately failing lesbian and transgender people.”

Zanele Muholi is a visual artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa whose work focuses on sexuality. In 2006 she began a portraiture series called “Faces and Phases” that turns a different kind of celebratory spotlight on lesbian and transgender women in Africa. 

“I need to underscore that naming ourselves and ‘being’ is more than a fashion statement or a research topic,” Muholi said while reflecting on her work in 2009, according to Creative Time Reports. “Rather, it is a political consciousness that we do not have a choice about. To be black, lesbian and African is by its very nature political in a world that is still overwhelmingly heterosexual.”

Check out the stunning series of portraits after the jump.

 

TAGS: Africa LGBT

New App Helps U.S. Immigrants Apply for Citizenship

New App Helps U.S. Immigrants Apply for Citizenship

Citizenship Works is a free mobile app that launched this week to help guide green card holders through the process of applying for American citizenship. Though the app is designed to help people who are currently living in the United States as legal permanent residents, its designers hope that the approach could also be used to help the nation’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants once new immigration legislation becomes law. 

The app, which is available in English and Spanish, helps applicants determine their eligibility to apply for citizenship, understand the application process, find legal resources, and study for the English and Civics tests. 

It’s available for free in the iTunes store and on Google Play for Android users. 

The app is funded by the Knight Foundation, the Silicon Valley community foundation, the New Americans campaign, and the Grove Foundation, in partnership with the Immigration Advocates Network.

Comic Book Captures Mighty Environmental Justice Adventures

Comic Book Captures Mighty Environmental Justice Adventures

A new comic book series titled Mayah’s Lot attempts to explain the everyday challenges of environmental justice advocacy through graphic novel storytelling. The main character of the series, Mayah, is recruited into the environmental justice movement when she discovers that a Los Angeles-based, greenwashed company is planning to use a lot in her neighborhood in New York to dump toxic waste. The community group Mayah joins helps her fight the company off by showing her the ropes of public policy advocacy. In the strip, Mayah becomes “Earth Girl,”a  jade-costumed superhero armed with something of a zap gun.

The conflict is resolved not by a single, caped crusader with special powers, though, but through the empowerment of Mayah’s community, which is divided into task groups and then dispatched to raise awareness, monitor pollution and do research. The moral is that no one leader can protect communities from environmental hazards, but rather that environmental justice is about “people coming together to improve their community, standing strong, [and] finding a legal solution.”

Rebecca Bratspies, a professor at City University of New York School of Law and founder of the “Center for Urban Environmental Reform,” created the book along with graphic artist Charlie LaGreca and middle school students in Queens. In Greenversations, a blog run by EPA, Bratspies said that she and LaGreca help students “identify environmental problems in their neighborhoods,” which the students then will turn into comic book narratives. 

The first story in the series is simple and accessible, but also keenly illustrates some of the more nuanced problems the environmental justice world faces, such as police keeping residents from working in lots in their own neighborhood, even to beautify them, or polluter companies serving obscured public notices buried in the back listings pages of newspapers. 

Download Mayah’s Lot here, and also watch this video for more info:

Autopsy Reveals Atlanta Rapper Chris Kelly Died of Drug Overdose

Autopsy Reveals Atlanta Rapper Chris Kelly Died of Drug Overdose

Autopsy results for Kris Kross rapper Chris Kelly were released on Monday. Kelly, 34, was found dead on May 1, 2013. The official cause of death: a drug overdose.

From Rolling Stone: 

Betty Honey of the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office in Atlanta said the specific drugs involved in the rapper’s death were unknown, but Kelly’s mother told investigators of her son’s history of drug abuse, and said that he had used cocaine and heroin the night before his death.


Read more at Rolling Stone.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195